Digital Indie Comics Round-up: Bob: Non-Union Psychic, Brethren Born, Mulp: Sceptre of the Sun, The Rabbit
Our latest round-up of the best indie digital comics features: a psychic hairdresser taking on Anime-inspired beasties in Bob: Non Union Psychic; psychic alien children on the run in Brethren Born #1; a surreal teenage angst adventure in Rachael Smith’s The Rabbit; and an anthropomortphic archaeological mice in a pulp adventure called Mulp: The Sceptre of the Sun..
Bob: Non-Union Psychic #0 (Warehouse 9 productions)
Lance Lucero’s tale of a psychic hairdresser who takes on paranormal beasties while giving people a short back and sides is one of those books that is so over-flowing with ideas it takes a couple of reads to truly get a handle on what the heck is happening. Bob is a psychic and looking to join the Psychics Union and build up his psychic investigation business with the help of his great-grandfather/spirit guide. After attending a particularly problematic reading where he has to rid a couple of a troublesome ex with access to the dark arts, Bob gets drawn into the antics of a grave-robbing archaeology professor who has stolen an amulet that contains the terrifying Hux beast – and all this while trying to find time for a particularly tricky trim and colour. As you can tell from this jumbled synopsis, it’s a truly unique book, packed full of interesting takes on all sorts of genres and tropes. At it’s heart it’s an X-Files-esque paranormal investigation tale, but with the Psychics Union sub plot, incredible artwork from Francisco Resendiz and a quirky, witty script from Lucero and editor Adam Volle, it ends up as a cracking if slightly complex read that feels rather like John Layman’s Chew – which is never a bad thing in our book!
Purchase Bob: Non Union Psychic for $2.99 from the Warehouse 9 website
Brethren Born #1 (Level 8 Comics)
First issues are tricky beasts, as you have to get so much information across to new readers about the world you have created, but you also have to create something memorable that will entertain and enthral them enough to come back. In Brethren Born, writers Jon Laight and artist Philip Knibbs, manage plenty of the former – crafting a world where a group of genetically modified children are liberated from a lab by their benevolent doctor – but not quite enough of the latter. Alongside the daring prison break and the debut of the kids’ powers, we see a sub plot about a mysterious vigilante fighting crime on the streets of the present day and an equally mysterious spaceship landing on earth in the past. All three stories are connected by the mysterious glowing blue ‘stigmata’ discs on the characters’ hands which, we hope, in time prove to be some big picture revelation. Visually the book looks great with some smart old-school artwork from Knibbs that reminded us of classic British artists like Dave Gibbons or David Lloyd, which is a refreshing change from the latest flavour of the month art style. Unfortunately the three strands of story in this first issue aren’t given enough space to develop and the reader is left with more questions than answers once they read the final page. Which on one hand is great as it does not give away too much in the first 20 pages, but on the other hand means it lacks a truly enticing hook to make you come back. Let’s hope we find out more in issue #2!
Purchase Brethren Born #1 for £4 from Level 8 Comics
Mulp: Sceptre of the Sun #1 (improper books)
MULP is an anthropomorphic tale of a group of mouse archaeologists trying to recover a lost treasure from the dastardly femme fatale Moreau. In other words it’s mouse-based pulp story (a MULP if you will), and is pitched as Indiana Jones with mice, but it reads like a classic children book from the 1950s that you have suddenly discovered in an old book store thanks to it’s timeless tone and vintage visuals. Dunkerton’s sublime pencil based art evokes classic British story-tellers like Raymond Briggs or Posy Simmonds, packing layer upon layer of detail into every panel. As well as making the mousey characters completely plausible and utterly charming (just check out the character sketches in the back of this first edition to revel in the detail she puts into each one), she also goes to town with some incredible Egyptian and Mayan inspired pages which are genuine works of art. Gibbs’ tale is simple, yet effective, (a classic treasure hunting plot around the globe), but thanks to a very old-fashioned tone and use of language, it manages to create a really charming story that already feels like the kind of book that has been around for generations – it’s just that you are the first to discover it. Although not as gritty as other mouse-based books like Mice Templar or the Mouse Guard, this rodent filled romp is one of the most charming and endearing books we have read in some time.
Purchase Mulp: Sceptre of the Sun #1 from Sequential
The Rabbit (Avery Hill Publishing)
For her follow up to the wonderful House Party, Rachael Smith is exploring the world of teen angst via a malevolent bunny. Eleanor and her younger sister Kathy have run away from school and from home, and after an encounter with some bullies take an injured rabbit under their wing to care of him. However the rabbit, whose name is Craig, isn’t the cute and loveable creature the girls expect, as he grows and grows and becomes more malevolent with each passing day which ultimately leads the girls astray. Acting as a surreal allegory on teenage rebellion, The Rabbit is a much darker tale than House Party, or books like John Allison’s Bad Machinery to which it has a very similar visual style, and as such is perhaps not as accessible to all ages as it might seem. However, that doesn’t stop The Rabbit from being a delightfully dark and surreal tale that reads like an indie comics version of Donnie Darko relocated in the English countryside.
Purchase The Rabbit for $7.99 from Sequential